It’s a new school year and your grade 10 student will be experiencing a lot of new changes: a new school, new friends, new teachers, different classes, more freedom, and more responsibilities. One factor that can make a big difference in their success is choosing the right math class for them. Their grade 9 teacher most likely gave a recommendation. This recommendation is highly dependent on their grade 9 marks. So, is your student’s grade 9 math mark the best and only deciding factor for their choice of a grade 10 math class? What else should you consider?
- Does your student have a learning disability in math? Has your student been on an IPP throughout their junior high academic career?
If you’ve answered “yes” to either of these questions then Grade 10 Essentials is most likely where your student will be the most successful. Concepts taught are just that, the essentials: math you can use in everyday life. They include mental math strategies; calculations for earning money, taxes, budgeting, and making purchases; calculations for banking, saving, and interest; measurement, including conversions and estimation; geometry; calculating the costs of owning and operating a vehicle; and probability.
Two mathematics courses are required for graduation, so these students would continue with Math 11 Essentials.
2. What career does your student want to pursue after high school?
Once you’ve narrowed down career options, then you can do some research into which programs are appropriate for attaining the qualifications needed. Then you can make a list of which schools are of interest to the student and from there determine what the academic requirements are to apply to the school.
This question might not be so easy to answer. Your student may not be able to pinpoint exactly what career they want to have right now, but having a general idea of what field they’re interested in will help narrow things down. For now, knowing if they prefer hands on work or academic work will narrow down either a career in the trades or academia. And knowing if they prefer Arts, Business, or Science can help decide what requirements they need for university.
This alone can be overwhelming, but there are services that can help:
- Make an appointment with the guidance counselor for their input.
- Visit the colleges and universities the student might be interested in and take a tour.
- Make an appointment with an advisor at the university of interest to gain more insight into the specific program the student is interested in taking.
- Hire a professional to guide you through career exploration and the admissions process including applying for scholarships, such as My Campus GPS.
Keep in mind that their interests and abilities can and most likely will change. The student will need to be prepared for that. If your student completed Math 10 and 11 Essentials, then their choices for post secondary education may be limited. For example, NSCC requires Grade 12 Math, so if your student has only completed only grade 10 and 11 Essentials they will need to upgrade before applying. Whereas applying for an Arts program at Dalhousie does not require grade 12 Math.
Consult the Math Pathways document provided by the Halifax Regional School Board to ensure you’ve signed up for the right math classes throughout your high school career to meet the requirements needed.
If your high school graduate hasn’t completed all the required math courses necessary for admission to their preferred program, they aren’t out of luck but can be out of pocket between $300-$500 per class to upgrade.
3. Did your student apply themselves in junior high?
Your student may have graduated from grade 9 with a not-so-desirable grade in math. It’s important to reflect on why that may be the case.
Did your student not understand the concepts they were required to master or did your student not put forth their best efforts?
Gifted students who are bored in a class may not complete work that they will be graded on because they are not engaged by it. If this behaviour occurs enough times, it’s reflected in their overall grade. The result is that the teacher recommends a lower level math course for grade 10 when really they are capable of so much more. If you are aware that your student is gifted, choose a higher level class that will be more interesting and meaningful to them and they will be more successful.
Students in junior high learn early on that regardless of poor grades they most likely will be passed on to the next grade. For some students, knowing this leads to poor work ethic and as a result poor grades. Once again, the student is recommended for a lower level math course when they are capable of more.
There are other students who have never needed to put a lot of effort into schoolwork and still get very good grades. In junior high a week may be spent on the same concept allowing this student to gain all the review they need. In comparison, in Pre-IB Math (in preparation for the International Baccalaureate Program) teachers are introducing several new concepts in one class only. Independent work outside of school is required to keep up and do well. The student who never needed to study before didn’t develop work habits, organizational skills, and study skills because they’ve never needed to try. If this student enters the Pre-IB program with the same work ethic, their grades may suffer.
Have a serious and honest conversation with your student to determine what kind of effort they put forth in junior high and what they are willing to put forth in their high school career to determine which grade 10 Math class will lead to their success.
4. Is the IB Program a good fit for my student?
Some parents are of the understanding that their student will not be prepared for university without completing the IB Program. This cannot be further from the truth. Which math classes an IB student chooses to take in the IB program will determine what field they are prepared for.
With respect to math courses in the IB program, when students enter the grade 11 year they will choose one of the following routes: Math Studies, Standard Level Math, and Higher Level Math.
- Math Studies is appropriate for students entering a career and a university program in the Arts. The course teaches how to use calculator functions on the TI 84 graphing calculator. There are critical thinking problems (problem solving) in each unit. Students taking this course will not be prepared if they want to enter a science degree. They will need to upgrade through a continuing education program.
- Standard Level (SL) Math is appropriate for students entering a Business or Science program at university. A student in the regular program who completes grade 12 Calculus will have covered and mastered more material than an IB student who completes SL Math. IB students who have taken SL math will sometimes comment at university that other students in their calculus course have a better understanding than they do. This may be partly do to the speed at which concepts are taught in the IB program. Also the amount of independent learning that they are expected to do in order to excel in SL math might not be realized. It’s easy to forget math concepts if students have not had enough time to practice enough problems.
- Higher Level (HL) Math is appropriate for students entering a Science program at university. This course is an extension of the Standard Level Math course. They will learn some additional concepts and some of the problems will be more challenging. Once again, a student in the regular program who completes grade 12 Calculus will have covered and mastered more material than an IB student who completes HL Math; although, some of the problems in HL Math may be more challenging.
So, if your student decides to take the regular program up to and including calculus, they will be as well prepared, if not more prepared than an IB student.
Students who take the IB program will benefit from the following: learning how to cope with a heavy course load before entering university, develop stronger critical thinking skills, are eligible to apply for universities and colleges in different countries without needing to take any additional courses or tests, and are able to apply for scholarships that other students will not be eligible for.
When taking the IB program students also need to complete a certain number of CAS hours. In addition to their studies students will be required to dedicate a certain number of hours to creativity (such as music or art), activity (such as sports), and service (volunteer work in their community).
It’s important to keep in mind how time consuming the IB program is. Students in the regular program can still participate in extra curricular activities to add to their resume but they have the luxury of taking on as many hours as they can handle and can quit if it becomes overwhelming. It’s important that your student have excellent time management skills to be successful in the IB program without experiencing burnout and anxiety.
To make the best decision regarding which math class is best for your student, don’t rely on your student’s grade 9 math mark alone. Also consider their ability, work habits, level of motivation, and their future goals. If you help your student choose the best math course for them, they will be successful and happy.
So tell me, which grade 10 math course did you sign up for and why? Let me know in the comments below.